A pilgrimage to the HOLY LAND
is a grace and a joy for ever ...
An Israeli guide, provided by the Israeli Tourist Office, would see to the political and civil aspects of the tour. But M. Christophe WIRTZ, owner of the WIRTZ Travel Agency, was a strong believer in the benefit for his customers to have a Catholic priest as a member of each group he dispatched to Israel. Through his services several most willing clergymen were in turn invited to join the successive parties with the mission of fostering a Christian approach to the Holy Sites of Christ's birth, passion and resurrection. Father John De Ridder s.j. accepted this job of Tour Conductor three times from 1985 to 1986. In 1987, started the Intifada which rang the knell of sponsored pilgrimages for several years.
Hebron - Machpelah Cave
The Cave of Machpelah, or Tomb of the Patriarchs, is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave was purchased by Abraham as a burial place for his wife Sarah some 3,700 years ago, along with the trees and field adjoining it, the first recorded transaction of a Hebrew buying land in Canaan (Genesis 23). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were all later buried in the same place. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. Muslims believe that Joseph is also buried here, though Jews think he was buried in Nablus. Though Israel regained control of Hebron in 1967, the Cave of Machpelah has remained under the authority of the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust), which continues to restrict Jewish access. No visitors are allowed inside during Muslim prayer times, Fridays or Muslim holidays.
Tel Aviv is Israel as the Zionists intended it to be. The Jewish state. Despite being the largest city in Israel, Tel Aviv has a relaxed Mediterranean beach atmosphere. In the Old City of Jerusalem the Christians fight the Muslims and the Jews. In the West Bank the Palestinians fight the settlers. In the suburbs of Jerusalem, the Orthodox Jews fight the secular Jews. In Tel Aviv most people manage to get through their day fighting nothing worse than extremely bad traffic. What is unique about Tel Aviv is that it is both a beach town and the nation's cultural and business capital. The brightest, most creative, and hardest working people in Israel congregate in Tel Aviv as the brightest, most creative, and hardest working Americans congregate in New York City. The difference is that, for about 9 months out of the year, it is possible to enjoy a pleasant sunset walk on the Tel Aviv beach.
The 10 kilometer-long Ashkelon beach attracts both local and foreign beach-goers. Ashkelon, proclaimed a national tourism site, is rapidly developing this sphere.
The Crusaders built ancient columns into the port defences.
The garden was designed by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi and is its best known attraction. Known now simply as the Art Garden, its genesis lies in a bequest by a once very famous American, the showman/songwriter and investor Billy Rose. Born William Samuel Rosenberg on what was then called the Lower East Side (now the smart East Village) in 1899, Mr. Rose started out life working as a stenographer for the Wall Street financier and later presidential adviser Bernard Baruch, where he acquired the reputation for being the fastest taker of shorthand in the world. He went on to find his fortune assisted fortuitously by the bonds of holy matrimony to the great star of the Ziegfeld Follies, Fannie Brice (Funny Girl).
Beersheba [Heb., seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins. Beersheba is an important rail and road hub for S Israel. The city was one of the southernmost towns of ancient Palestine; hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba," meaning the whole of Palestine. It is especially connected, in the Bible, with Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah. A well believed to have been dug by Abraham when he made his covenant with Abimelech is in the city. Beersheba flourished during the late Roman and Byzantine eras but was deserted soon thereafter. Beersheba was the first city taken by the British in the Palestine campaign (1917) of World War I. Under the British mandate (1922–48) it was a city (Bir-es-Seba) inhabited by about 4,000 Muslim Arabs. Given to the Arabs in the partition of Palestine (1948), it was retaken by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Its population and economy have grown considerably since 1989 as a result of immigration from the former Soviet Union. Beersheba is the seat of the Arid Zone Research Institute and the Ben-Gurion Univ. Remnants of a fortress and shards of the Bronze Age have been found nearby at Tell el-Sheba, the most ancient site of Beersheba.
Beersheva new city
The Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept.
Its pale concrete dome is shaped
like the lid of one of the jars
in which the “Dead Sea Scrolls” were discovered in 1947.
In front of the entrance to the Knesseth, stands a 5m high seven-branched candlestick, symbol of the state of Israel, designed and cast in bronze by Benno Elkan. Twenty-nine reliefs show figures and events from Jewish history. It was a gift from the British parliament.
The Jews were pushed into an exile from their homeland that would last almost 2,000 years. In their absence, Palestine continued to be a crucible or a stage for major historical events – the rise of Islam, the Crusades, the ascendancy of the Ottoman Turks, the imperial rivalry between France and Great Britain.
South of the Knesseth are the pavillions of the Israel Museum containing the Shrine of the Book, Archeological Museum, Bezalel Art Gallery, Billy Rose Art Garden and Department of Antiquities. After the restoration of the Jewish homeland in 1948 the Israelis produced this magnificent museum chronicling the history of Palestine and the Middle East. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, founded in 1965, is a 20-acre complex that draws almost 1 million visitors a year to its unmatched collections of Judaica and Middle Eastern archaeology, which include the priceless Dead Sea Scrolls.
" And to them will I give a house and within my walls a memorial...There will I put a perpetual name
that shall never be cut off. " (Isaiah, 56:5)
Barbwire Memorial to the Victims in Camps
Memorial to Ghetto Fighters
This cattle car was used by the Nazis to transport Jews to the camps. It was given to Yad Vashem by the Polish authorities in 1990. Now part of a memorial designed by Moshe Safdie, it sits on a severed railroad track jutting out over the slope of a hill, suspended between heaven and earth.
Yad Vashem - the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority - is a sprawling complex of museums, archives, monuments and sculptures connected by a maze of walkways. It is the world's largest repository of information about the Holocaust.. "Shem" means name. Six million Jews (along with a fair number of gypsies, homosexuals, disabled and people with the wrong ideology) were killed in a mind-boggling example of man's inhumanity to man. The goal of Yad Vashem is to give a name to every person who died, to personalize this faceless mass, branded like cattle, numbers burned onto their arms, packed into cattle cars, and shipped off to concentration camps and gas chambers.
The Hadassah Medical Center (University Clinics) was opened in 1962 and is part of the Hebrew University. In its synagogue can be seen the twelve stained-glass windows by the painter Marc Chagall and the stained-glass artist Charles Marcq, illustrating the 12 sons of Jacob.
In Frankfurt, the El Al plane landed to allow German passengers to leave. Topgrade security was in order with military vehicles escorting the plane. (snapshot from inside the landing plane).
Safely back home!
And now back to Belgium after a very pleasant holiday filled with this successful pilgrimage cum tourism tour.
The tour conductor is always afraid someone will be left behind! Hurry up, the plane is loading...
On the 16th November 1986, when the party reached the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, the EL AL plane was already waiting on the tarmac having just arrived from Belgium on a very tight airschedule.
The Lod International Airport was named after the first Israeli Prime Minister. David Ben-Gurion was born in Plonsk, Poland in 1886. Arriving in the Land of Israel in 1906, he became involved in politics. Having led the struggle to establish the State of Israel in May 1948, Ben-Gurion became Prime Minister and Defense Minister. As Premier, he oversaw the establishment of the state's institutions.In June 1970, Ben-Gurion retired from political life and returned to Kibbutz Sde Boker where he passed away in 1973.
The taxfree shop keeps people on their knees. They can't easily leave it... Friends and relatives worry because the plane won't wait for late-comers.
The Ben Gurion Airport at Lod near Tel Aviv is a modern building with all convenient facilities to welcome passengers.
Lod, the ancient Lydda, was founded around the 8th c. B.C. St Peter came to Lydda and healed Aeneas, a man who had been bedridden for eight years (Acts 9, 32-34). According to tradition, George, the first Orthodox martyr, was born here. He was a tribune in the Roman army and suffered martyrdom under Diocletian. The Orthodox church of St George was rebuilt in 1870, with a relief of the saint as slayer of the dragon above the entrance
Protector of England, King Edward III of England (1327-77) founded his knighthood of chivalry, known as the Order of the Garter, under the banner of St. George. Many churches were dedicated to him in England and though his popularity may have lessened with the severe curtailment of saints days in the calendar during the Reformation, St George's Day continued to be observed. His veneration as protector of England was approved by Pope Benedict XIV (Lambertini 1740-58).
On the way back to Jerusalem from Netanya, we cross Tel Aviv township and driving alongside an IAF landingstrip we reach the Jerusalem highway
Similisailboats of brick and mortar give the Natanya beach a pleasant background setting.
On Mount Scopus, the Palace Hotel offers a distant view of the Temple Square (left background)
Prior to the Six-Day War, Ammunition Hill was Jordan's most heavily fortified stronghold in divided Jerusalem. Its central bunker served as a command post, mess hall and storage area for weapons and other war material. A maze of trenches and pillboxes on the hill was connected with the bunker. The battle for Ammunition Hill was fierce and cost the lives of 24 Israeli paratroopers. As a result of the victory, Israeli forces could open the road to Mt. Scopus and the fall of the Old City was greatly facilitated. These two achievements were crucial to the reunification of the city. Today, a memorial and museum are on the site. The main attraction on Mount Scopus is the spectacular panoramic view of the city, the Hebrew University and the Mount of Olives.
The Roman amphitheater was built facing the sea. Today spectators seating in the restored galleries may still admire the sunset while listening to concerts under the aegis of the Israeli Music Festival.
School boys gather at the Roman amphitheater for a break .
Caesarea - ruins of Promontory Palace
Caesarea - Herodian aqueduct
That's how the harbour looks to-day! A lighthouse guides the ships into the channel. In the background, the coastline of Lebanon can be seen.
Sunset on the high seas from Akko.
where tourists can also park their cars
Modern fishing harbour in Akko
Hot Turkish coffee, warm fresh knafee, traditional pastries of honey and nuts... to serve as a sweet incentive to encourage children to read and read more… this is a never-failing means to bring children to their desks.